The Kidapawan tragedy may happen again unless the government adopts a sound agricultural policy that truly addresses the needs of the farmers, such as irrigation and credit facilities, said vice presidential candidate Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.
Marcos has condemned the violent dispersal of farmers who staged a protest rally in Kidapawan City to demand rice and release of the calamity fund for those affected by the drought spawned by the El Niño weather phenomenon.
He has filed Senate Resolution No. 1739 calling for an investigation into the violent dispersal operation that resulted in the death of three farmers and injury to over 100 others.
It is important to “give justice” to the farmers and provide them the help they need as soon as possible, he said.
“But for the long term, we must put in place a sound agricultural policy that takes care of farmers, because unless we do this, there is danger the tragic Kidapawan incident may happen again,” said Marcos.
He said the government’s neglect of the agricultural situation has led to the anomalous consequence where those who produce our country’s food are the ones suffering from hunger.
For instance he noted that despite the recurring El Niño phenomenon and the resulting drought in many places, the government has failed to expand the irrigation system and devise alternative means to store abundant water during the rainy season.
‘‘We all know that without water farmers can’t plant their crops, so it is crucial that we improve and expand our irrigation system,” he said.
Marcos has been calling too for the scrapping of irrigation fees the government charges farmers to lessen their burden.
He has also proposed cheaper credit facilities for farmers, better crop insurance coverage, research and development to develop drought or flood-resistant crops, construction of more post-harvest facilities and strategic farm-to-market roads to facilitate transport of harvest.
Marcos said his “long experience” as governor of Ilocos Norte had taught him that if farmers get the help they need from the government, their lives not only improve but they also help boost the economy.
“We must provide our farmers all the necessary assistance so that we not only alleviate any adverse impact of natural calamities but also help them produce more so they won’t go hungry again,” said Marcos.